(C) ESI Photography. Kim Farlinger and Charming Force B.
This week is Great American Million week at HITS Ocala, where the best of the best will travel from near and far to compete for the sport’s richest prize purse in the Ocala Horse Properties Stadium.
Last Sunday, there was still plenty of competition to witness in the $100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix. Canadian equestrian Kim Farlinger took home the win in a thrilling 11-horse jump-off aboard Charming Force B, owned by her own Kim Farlinger Stables Ltd.
Farlinger has ranked consistently among the top finishers at HITS Ocala this season, and each week, she and Charming Force B have climbed up the ranks to snag their blue-ribbon finish. They swooped in for the victory with a time of 40.430, a full two seconds ahead of the field of their peers.
Second place went to Harold Chopping of Southern Pines, North Carolina. Chopping rode Basje, owned by Kendra Bullington. They are no strangers to the ribbons at HITS Ocala, having won several Grand Prix during the HITS Holiday Series. They stopped the clock fault-free in 42.391 for the second-place prize.
Four more would go double clear to seal their spot in the top ribbons, including a rare tie between two riders who clocked in at the same time down to thousandths of a second: Mattias Tromp and Candice King. Tromp rode Avon, owned by Swede Ventures, LLC, and King piloted Calisto 26, owned by Ross Smith. Their time of 42.543 was just two-tenths of a second behind Chopping for the third-place tie up.
Hometown hero Aaron Vale garnered the final spot in the top five with Bonzini S, owned by Thinkslikeahorse. Their cool, clear round of 42.949 earned them the pink ribbon for the fifth-place prize.
OCALA, FL (February 21, 2013) – Tracy Fenney of Flower Mound, Texas rode to a HITS Ocala hat trick with MTM Farm’s MTM Timon today, picking up her third grand prix win of the winter circuit. She and the13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding that carried her to three top-twenty finishes in the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Pfizer $1 Million Grand Prix, and countless grand prix victories, were the best of 37 in today’s $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis.
Fenney characterized the course as fair for $25,000 and was one of eight to produce first-round clears and advance to the jump-off. Course designer Danny Foster of Milton, Ontario built a 13-obstacle course, which included a triple and double combination.
The jump-off saw four in a row go clean and Michael Hughes of Allendale, New Jersey aboard Christina Fried’s Luxina got it started. The 17-year-old rider posted a time of 45.16 seconds, which was quickly bested by Kristen VanderVeen of St. Charles, Illinois with Bull Run Jumpers’ Bull Run’s Eternal. She finished in 45.09 seconds, hinting that today’s class results would be determined by the clock.
With only one of her two mounts advancing, Fenney had to play her speed card early in the second round. Third to ride, she and Timon crushed the Great American Time To Beat by almost two full seconds and crossed the beam in 53.58 to sit first. She then waited, fingers crossed, for the remaining five trips, but the code had been cracked. Harold Chopping of Southern Pines, North Carolina produced one more clear round with Paddy Ann Burns’ Calando Z, but was two seconds too slow for the lead.
VanderVeen finished second and Hughes third. Chopping settled for fourth and Aaron Vale of Morriston, Florida capped the top five in the irons of 2VR Showjumpers’ Zippo II – the fastest of the four-fault rounds. SmartPak will continue to sponsor $25,000 grand prix each Thursday for the next three weeks, each presented by Zoetis.
Fenney has experienced surplus grand prix success at HITS Ocala in the past several years and swept the high-performance jumper classes during Week II this winter. She has her two top mounts, MTM Timon and MTM Centano, primed for Sunday’s $50,000 Strongid C 2X Grand Prix, presented by Zoetis, as well as anticipating a return to HITS Championship Weekend’s Zoetis $1 Million Grand Prix this fall. She and husband Mike McCormick, however, may be thinking of taking their success west this year. “We own all of our horses, so we have some freedom as far as our schedule is concerned,” said Fenney. “We are considering taking a trip to California this season for the [AIG Thermal] $1 Million class out there as well as the [Zoetis] $1 Million in Saugerties.”
While some chase $1 million glory on the West Coast, East Coast riders will have their chance to ride for serious money during the same weekend. The $100,000 Sullivan GMC Truck Grand Prix, presented by Great American Insurance Group, will return to HITS Ocala March 17.
$2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome Canada was well represented in the $2,500 Brook Ledge Open Welcome this week at HITS Ocala and was the home country of three of the top five riders.
Kim Farlinger and Kelley Robinson, both hailing from Ontario, were one-two in the 1.40m event – Farlinger on her own Caprice van de Brouweshoeve and Robinson in the irons of Cimarron Farm’s Barretta. Farlinger topped 28 contenders for the win. Also from Ontario, Jean-Nicholas Goyette rode to fourth aboard his own Delgado Van Neerhoff.
Denise Wilson of Dousman, Wisconsin was third on Blue Gate Farm, LLC’s Aconito 5, while Ocala, Florida local My Weber capped the top five aboard AvailableJumpers.com’s Available Aphrodite.
Brook Ledge Horse Transportation will continue to present a weekly jumper class throughout the three weeks remaining in the circuit. Aside from the winner’s purse, Brook Ledge Open Welcome riders also compete for the Brook Ledge Rider Bonus, which includes a $1,500 shipping credit for the rider who accumulates the most points in those classes throughout the HITS Ocala circuit.